There’s a common misconception that B2B and B2C marketing are two distinct fields, with little correlation.
While the two sets of marketers will have some different approaches, the old comparison between logical B2B marketing and emotional B2C marketing doesn’t really ring true anymore.
But there’s no reason why B2Bs shouldn’t leverage the best aspects of B2C brand marketing in order to stand out. We discuss the subtle differences between B2B and B2C marketing, and how B2B marketers can get in a B2C marketing mindset to get ahead.
The old school way of thinking is that B2B marketing is based on logic, while B2C marketing is all about emotion. However, emotion still comes into play when marketing a B2B product or service. After all, behind any good company are its people. So, you need to take into consideration the needs and desires of those people when coming up with a marketing strategy. If you really know your audience then it’s easier to engage them.
What makes B2B marketing a little more complex is that there are often more decision-makers involved in the B2B purchasing decision – the person you’re selling to might want your product or service, but you still have to convince others of its worthiness. You have to take the time to communicate your services and the benefits in an in-depth manner, providing thorough data that demonstrates why a company should work with you. What is relevant for a decision-maker in the finance department may be less important for one in the facilities department.
However, those B2B purchasing decisions aren’t purely based on housekeeping factors like price or lead time. Who you do business with says a lot about your own company, so emotional factors do count. If you’re in a close-run market, the deciding call between you and another supplier could come down to how you portray yourself as a responsible, ethical, inclusive or charitable organisation.
B2Cs are adept at using storytelling to elevate their brand above others. By creating a brand story, B2Cs explain why their products are so important and how they fit into the bigger picture, thus offering their customers added value that goes beyond a material object. Take Toms shoes, for instance: people buy them because they’re part of a wider story, which helps the needy from the proceeds of the shoe sales.
Storytelling is more often than not achieved through content marketing, as it focuses on what your customers are looking for and engage with online. Through listening to your customers, and finding out what they follow and share, B2Bs can use content to create a brand story that ties in with this. Furthermore, a good copywriting agency can ensure this brand story is the overarching theme for providing content, such as articles that are useful and relevant to your customer base.
By developing a unique voice, B2B copywriting can make brands more authentic and memorable in the same way B2Cs do. A customer may come to your website through a targeted blog post that highlights your product as a way of improving their business, but while there you can capture their interest with a story of how your company was formed and what you stand for. An added bonus of doing this is you will have a strong, brand orientated piece of evergreen content – your company's history.
Historically, B2Bs aren’t the best at humanising, but it’s important to realise that business people are just the average woman or man on the street but in a work setting.
CRM software and cloud computing company, Salesforce, is a top example of how a B2B company humanises its brand. Not only does Salesforce provide a story about how it pioneered CRM software back in 1999, it also speaks to ambitious businesspeople directly. On its About Us page, Salesforce states that:
“Now anyone can be a Customer Trailblazer who transforms their company — and grows their career — using our easy-to-use, yet powerful, technologies and tools.”
This powerful language shows that B2Bs can benefit from using emotion and expressing personality in the manner of B2C brands. Salesforce carries on injecting personality into the content on its blog, with posts like ‘What if the North Pole ran on Salesforce’ continuing the trailblazing theme. This emotion is what makes people feel truly connected to a brand on a human level. And if they feel connected they are more likely to remember the brand and make a purchase.
When it comes to social media, putting your story out there is just part of the process in truly connecting with your audience. As well as a platform for sharing content, social media is also a place where brands answer queries and make connections with customers, so it’s vital to be approachable and reactive. According to SproutSocial, being responsive on social media prompts 48% of consumers to make a purchase – the highest factor in their study.
B2Bs might think that as they aren’t targeting consumers directly then social media isn’t a relevant part of their marketing. But with almost 80% of the UK population using Facebook in 2017, it provides a big opportunity. This is particularly true if employees of your target businesses are millennials, the biggest users of Facebook, who could be encouraged to follow you on their personal accounts. Or if you target freelancers they’re likely to use their Facebook account for work purposes.
The personal touch mentioned above works well on Facebook, so it’s a good place to continue your story, as well as posting curated content. In this way, you can set your business up as a thought leader in your industry, by providing regular insightful business tips. And if you have the budget to advertise on Facebook, its targeting now includes the ability to focus by industry, company and job title, as well as by search radius.
All in all, B2B marketers need to start thinking like B2Cs in order to create an enduring brand. B2Bs can utilise B2C techniques to make a greater impression on potential clients. They can do this by creating a brand story that resonates with people, connecting on a personal level, and injecting personality into their brand.
If you’re ready to take your brand to the next level, it’s time to get creative and use content to express personality through your own brand story.